T-Mobile Loses Cancellation Letter Twice, Sends Account To Collection Agency

T-Mobile sent reader Ivan’s account to collections after he twice cancelled his service. He first cancelled in August, but T-Mobile mysteriously lost the cancellation letter. Ivan faxed over a second cancellation letter while a CSR waited on the phone to confirm receipt. Having switched to Verizon, Ivan didn’t care when in September, someone stepped on the T-Mobile phone lying in his car, breaking the screen. T-Mobile is now demanding that Ivan pay a bill that lists only a reinstatement fee. Ivan writes:

I moved from NY to SC, and had a t-mobile phone. and because there is no t-mobile here in sc, i called to cancel it, because the service here is very poor for t-mobile. On August 17 I paid my bill for July and August in full, and called t-mobile to cancel the phone, she said ok that she will cancel the service without the cancellation fee because of no service in sc, but told me to fax her a letter stating that I want to cancel the service, I got off the phone and faxed her the letter. Couple days latter I logged onto my account online and saw that my service was still not canceled. I called them to see what was going on, the guy told me that they see that I called on August 17th, but that they lost the letter, and told me that I have to send the fax again, so this time I told him to stay on the phone while I send the fax, I sent him the fax while he was on the phone, and he told me that he was holding the letter in his hand and that he will take care of it.

After I while I started getting calls from t-mobile telling me I had to pay my bill, so I called them again and the guy told me that my account was still not canceled and that I was being charged for some reinstatement fee for September and some unpaid dues from before, and some fees for October, even tho I have the bills from t-mobile stating that I paid my bills in full for all the months and the bill for July and August, and that I have no minutes used for September and October, actually my phone wasn’t even working during September and October because someone stepped on it in my car and broke the screen, and I had already gotten a new service with verizon. The guy told me that it wasn’t right and that he will take care of it. So I thought that he will, but after couple days I again got a call from t-mobile saying that I have to pay my bills or it will be passed on to collection agencie. So I called again on Wednesday October 31st, and told the guy everything, and he told me that he can see that I called on August 17th to cancel the account, that he doesn’t have the letter, and that he will review my account and call me back Sunday November 4th to tell me whats going on before he does anything. I didn’t get any call from anyone on Sunday, So I called Monday. again the representative said she could not do anything about it, and this time said that it was already passed on to collection agencies, so I told her to let me talk to someone else, she let me talk to some guy from support something. The guy from support Michael told me he couldn’t do anything that it was passed on already to collection agencie. When I told him everything that happened he was like yea I do see all that but I cant do anything about it, and that I would have to deal with collection agencie now, when I asked him to give me the number to collection aggencie, he told me to wait that he came back and told me that they filled it on Nov 4th and that it takes 3 days for the collection agencies information to come back and that he couldn’t give me their phone number. So I asked his name he told me it was Michael, I told him Michael I was recording this call is that ok with you, right away he was like actually sir you can’t do that, I told him thanks and bye.

I wasn’t actually recording him, but he did seem scared after I told him.

Is there anything I can do to find some answers????

There is little you can do once an account has been sent to collections other than prepare for the coming onslaught of debt collectors. Read through our tips on dealing with abusive debt collectors by phone, and writing a sample letter for disputing a debt collection notice.

(Photo: medalian1)


Edit Your Comment

  1. mgyqmb says:


  2. timmus says:

    I think this underscores the importance of sending a certified return receipt letter when doing important transactions with monolithic corporations with questionable customer service. Then you have some recourse for small claims court so you don’t have to deal with the “collection aggencie”.

  3. InThrees says:

    Nice… After hearing all the stories of T-Mobiles great customer service (which I guess have been coming much less frequently…) I was happy to hear they bought my current provider in South Carolina.

    Not so much, now. I understand slipping through the cracks, but this is kind of ridiculous.

    Years ago I worked in a call center that received calls on behalf of AT&T. Occasionally I would get a call about an account in collections, and if they had a plausible story about why the charges weren’t correct, or… well… THEIRS, then I would connect them with a supervisor. Or I would personally bring the account back from collections. If T-Mobile’s reps can’t bring an account back from collections, they certainly can connect the caller with someone who has that power.

  4. TMurphy says:

    I assume TMobile is taking to the strategy of getting the customer to pay up instead of bother to carry on a long dispute. Once they did not cancel after the second fax, would he be able to threaten to bring his lawyer into the fight, or would there not be enough ground to stand on?

    The way the system is set up, it is lose-lose; you either pay a charge that you certainly don’t owe, or you spend hours trying to get the charge cleared. Is there anything you can do to prevent abuse of the system like this? If legal action can be pursued early in the game, and enough people threaten to do so, it may be possible to stop this. The only question would be whether, if you do bring the lawyer in, can you recoup the related costs there.

  5. DrGirlfriend says:

    I am in general happy with T-Mobile, but they sure do have a hard time receiving correspondence from customers. I tried to submit a name change notification to them 3 times (once I even went to a T-Mobile store and a rep faxed my paperwork). I finally gave up, because they never received any of it. Four years later my old name is still on that account.

  6. BigNutty says:

    TIMMUS hit it on the head as I always send letters certified, return receipt requested as this is the only thing you have to prove, and show a judge, when you actually cancelled. The small cost can save you a lot of money.

  7. Scuba Steve says:

    My solution: Pre-pay.

    That being said, I think we seriously need to rethink our stances on a few things.

    1. We should be able to record these calls. We shouldn’t be worried about the call center hanging up on us for doing so. We deserve accountability, seeing as how they’re so quick to send him to collections for supposedly not paying what he didn’t owe.

    2. Collections agencies need to be held more accountable for getting false debt, and harassment of customers in general, which may not be the case but is most certainly an issue which may come into play at this point.

    3. I hate phone companies. I hate how they’ve screwed the consumer in every possible way, collectively, not just one or two companies, and there’s no way to change any of it because of the enormous barriers to entry that the US citizens helped pay for.

    It’s sort of like a parallel to our government. We put it in place, but it’s long since stopped focusing on its job, or the needs of the people it serves.

    God I’m gonna hate signing up for a two year contract with AT&T when I get my Iphone in March.

  8. calvinneal says:

    I read so many of these horror stories. Most of these faxes are “purposely lost” as it is the easiest way to get a customer off the phone. Tomorrow when you call back you have no proof, no legal rights and You are someone else’s problem. Alway send Certified Mail return receipt requested. Certified letters have a magical ability to get attention. The receipt is legal proof in any court in the United States. The letters are usually special handled as losing the letter is more problematic for the recipient. Costs less than an Mocha.

  9. Rae12401 says:

    IANAL, and I can only speak for what I know the law is in the state of Massachusetts, but I’m certain it would not be difficult to find out the laws in other states re: recording phone calls. In MA, as long as ONE of the parties involved has knowledge that the call is being recorded, it is legal. Meaning: you can record your own call to a call center without having to inform them because YOU know about it. But you could not say, record your teenage daughter’s conversations with her friends without either her or the friend knowing about it.

  10. kingoman says:

    “There is little you can do once an account has been sent to collections other than prepare for the coming onslaught of debt collectors.”

    This is not true. I was turned over to collections once by my (former) ISP who had been bought by somebody who was then bought by somebody else and the new company had lost all records of my having paid for my service a year in advance. After much hassle, I was able to find someone to whom I could fax copies of all my checks and statements and they contacted the collection agency and recinded the collection attempt.

    The collection agency isn’t interested in what or why. They have one job: collect the money. You can’t reason with them because they don’t have the information or the ability (or the incentive) to fix the problem. They are Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive (“I didn’t kill my wife!” “I don’t care!”).

    This is not to say it was easy, it was not. But the only people who can call off a collection agency are the ones who put them on you in the first place. So if it’s wrong, the only way you can fix it is to continue to try to convince them of the error.

  11. JustinAche says:

    Actually, every time I call a major corporation, I always hear “this call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance purposes”, or something to that effect. In Florida (and most states I’ve heard of), both parties have to be notified of a call recording. Since they explicitly said that this call may be monitored or recorded, I find it within my full rights to go ahead and record it. In fact, notify them towards the end of your call (if you don’t get satisfaction), that you have monitored and recorded the call for quality assurance purposes. Then listen to them freak out.

  12. MissPittypat says:

    Yes, there is something you can do. Write or email the BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU. I had a similar experience w/Qwest. My mother died, I tried to cancel the account. I was told I was “unauthorized to make changes to the account.” I was told to fax a copy of her death cert. which I did. Still no cancellation. I was told to fax a copy of her Will giving me authority to handle her affairs. I refused. Each month I called (wrote down the name and employee # of every person I talked to) each month the person I talked to said, “I’ll take care of that.” The bills kept coming, each bill with more fees and late fees. I finally wrote on the outside of the bills “DIED, LEFT NO FORWARDING ADDRESS.” After several months the bills finally stopped coming. Then the collection agency bills started coming. I wrote to them explaining that this person had been DEAD for 6 month and we had already printed in the paper the bit about if you have any claim against the estate, come forward…” Still the collection bills came. I finally found the BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU on the internet and filled a complaint. Within three or four more months Qwest finally called me! They appologized, cancelled the debt, called off collections and offered me free service. LOL I laughed in her face and told her, “I HATE QWEST, you couldn’t PAY me to have service from Qwest!” It took almost a YEAR to resolve this, but it was finally taken care of by filing a complaint with the BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU. Thank you BBB!

  13. Cowboys_fan says:

    @kingoman: That sounds good in theory but being a former t-mobile csr, there is nothing they can do. I once pursued a similar battle for a customer, where we promised a credit after sent to collections and there was literally nothing I could do for them, though we were completely wrong. The way the internal system is setup, the only people who potentially could reverse the collections would never be known by a rep, nor would we have a contact number. I even called the collection agents personally, and was hung up on alot. In this case, you need to dispute it with the collection agency, if they will even let you. Other than that, I’m at a loss for advice.

  14. DallasDMD says:

    @Cowboys_fan: EECB :)

  15. ChristopherDavis says:

    @Rae12401: Massachusetts is, in fact, one of the few all-parties states; you must have the permission of all parties to the conversation to record it. See MGL Ch. 272 Sec. 99, B.4. “The term “interception” means to secretly hear, secretly record, or aid another to secretly hear or secretly record the contents of any wire or oral communication through the use of any intercepting device by any person other than a person given prior authority by all parties to such communication”. None of the exceptions look like the would apply to a customer recording a call to a company.

  16. My wife and I had our fair share of problems with T-mobile. It took a letter to the BBB to resolve things.

    Not that I think Cingular is any better, but I think we’ll probably consider switching when our current contract is up. We’ve continued to have problems with the service since we re-upped in April.

  17. formergr says:

    @Cowboys_fan: I’m not sure if T-Mobile is different than AT&T/Cingular, but a full 2.5 years after switching from AT&T to T-Mobile, I received a collections notice for my AT&T account. I called the collections agency to confirm that it was for my old cell account with them and the date of the past due notice, and they were predictably total assholes (pressuring me to pay a much lower settlement amount and threatening to go on my credit report if I didn’t). I politely declined and called AT&T.

    I must have gotten really lucky, because the random agent I spoke with was amazing. She tracked down the issue right away (I’d inadvertently underpaid my last bill with them by $1.70, which then gradually built up with late fees, etc). She corrected the mis-payment, waiving even the $1.70, and then spent a lot of time getting rid of the next 2.5 years of late fee charges. She then contacted the billing dept while I was on hold, and confirmed that they would recall the notice from the collections agency (she had already taken down their name and number).

    This all took her a good 25 minutes, but she did it all and the collections agency has since left me alone (I still do need to check my credit report next month). So I really do think it is possible…

  18. iamme99 says:

    1. Send all important letters certified.

    2. As for recording calls, go ahead and do it. What are they going to do, sue the little consumer? That would be a great publicity move (NOT), particularly if you had the actual recording showing they lied to you.

    And could mega company sue a consumer directly for recording calls or would they have to get the get the state attorneys general office to do it? If they have to go to the AG, then you can rest peacefully because the AG office is only interested in BIG cases with a lot of publicity potential.

    In California, I tried to get the AG office to enforce the state civil law against credit card surcharges. After talking to a number of people there, I was basically told to take a hike. They said they would need to get thousands of regular complaints before this would get on their radar.

    And btw, both Visa and MC have refused to enforce their restrictions on surcharging also. So if you have a business that takes CC’s in California, feel free to add a surcharge to CC charges. No one is going to chase you down.

  19. DallasDMD says:

    I’m not a lawyer here, so take my advice with a grain of salt, but when it comes to making a call across state lines, my impression would be that the state no longer has the power to regulate that activity (its a form of interstate commerce, I would imagine). The federal code for recording is one party consent.

  20. asherchang2 says:

    @timmus: What do you mean? What is a certified return receipt letter, exactly?

  21. DallasDMD says:
  22. Buran says:

    EECB, put a statement on file with the credit bureaus, dispute if it shows up on your credit file as invalid, if a collection agency tries to contact you, send them a written “drop dead” notice, contact the BBB, and maybe even the FCC or FTC, if appropriate.

    You do not owe this money. You twice notified them that you had cancelled so you are not required to pay.

  23. ThePlaz says:

    I like the picture. “Punkt” means “Point” in German. This is a store/service center in Germany.

  24. LBWalker says:

    From my understanding, it would be very difficult to fax to a rep while on the phone with them since the fax goes to a central mail box and then delivered to the rep later. At a minimum it would take a couple of hours. The best way to handle this, if in doubt, is to allow the rep to cancel the account and assess the ETF and waive it once the documentation has been received. Documentation is required as proof of address or they would have people calling all the time to say they moved to SC. You can also write on a check, if you decided to pay it and dispute it later, “paid in dispute” or some such wording. (I’m not a lawyer or giving legal advise in any way) I had a similar experience with a doctor overcharging me, it was sent to collections, while I was disputing it, and I was trying to purchase my first home. I paid the collection agency with a letter stating that I was paying this in dispute and wound up getting 2/3 of my money back a few months later. It did stay on my credit report though.

  25. kylere says:

    Why would anyone do business with a firm that wants to keeps its communication verbal so that you cannot hold them to their statements?

  26. bunnymen says:

    @Scuba Steve: Pre-paid is really the best way to go. I’ve never had a cell contract. At this point in time, my only telephone is a pre-paid T-Mobile, and it’s been working just fine for me.

  27. mattindustries says:

    Could this be something to do with their billing cycle, or maybe I just got screwed by t-mobile as well, but I was charged for 3 months after I canceled my account and was told this was because of their billing cycle even though it was month to month.

  28. sibertater says:


    I do it all the time. It’s a great way to document and then you can just fax the certified letter. I’ve had people tell me that the person that signed for it wasn’t in their department so it didn’t count. Uh…yeah it does, your internal issues do not concern me. After calling back 2 or 3 times and finally getting a supervisor it was fixed. I hate Sprint for that, but what can you do?

  29. novelgirl says:

    @RAE12401 — Actually Mass. is a two party state, meaning all people participating in a phone call have to know it’s being taped and consent. It’s illegal, at least in Mass, to tape a phone call without the other person’s consent.

  30. divine315 says:

    So AT&T did this EXACT same thing to me. My “unpaid” account for $36 landline service, (which I had canceled before it was even connected!) was sent to collections and then to an attorney. It took about 6 weeks and 10 diff reps to have the charge removed but they finally did it. Yet they never fulfilled their promise of sending me a final statement reflecting the zero balance.

  31. Tonguetied says:

    Can’t T-Mobile be sued in small claims court for the amount the collection agency attempts to collect?

  32. Cowboys_fan says:

    @mattindustries: They bill 1 month behind, so that only accounts for 1 of 3 months.

  33. algormortis says:

    Furthermore, I suggest you bark up the CEO’s tree on this one. I can’t tell you how sorry I am that I work with some folks who are incompetent, but this is so, so, so NOT out of T-Mobile’s hands. We can call off a collection agency, because I’ve seen it done back when I worked in a customer contact position. (Now i’m a technician for one non-phone division.)

    If you like the mail, which you should when dealing with matters financial:
    T-Mobile USA
    Office of the CEO, Robert Dotson
    PO Box 37380
    Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87176

    Obviously, however, one thing should stink: Our CEO is here in Washington, not in New Mexico.

    The contact info given is:
    Kelly Spindle
    Executive Customer Relations Coordinator

    Conveniently she has no listed external email.
    But I will tell you this: email addresses are firsname.lastname@t-mobile.com :)

    Remind them politely that suing over a collection action is indeed within your rights when they try to defend that you agreed to arbitration. Also, you can tell them you can meet the filing requirement in King County, Washington, as you can file papers by mail in WA.